Stepping up for London

London Higher Education Week

One year ago this week I took over the reins of London Higher – the representative body for over forty universities and higher education colleges across the Greater London region.

Over the past twelve months, I have seen first-hand how London’s higher education sector is stepping up to the various challenges the pandemic has brought our way: continuing to provide vital skills and opportunities to individuals and communities; bolstering our public services; supporting business and enterprise; and leading the charge toward a sustainable ‘Net Zero’ future.

Yet, all of this has come at a time when neither universities nor London seem to be political priorities and higher education institutions in the capital are having to absorb significant cuts to their funding streams, arising in the main from the abolition of the £64m London Weighting supplement decreed by the previous Education Secretary in July.

Despite facing a future of having to do much more with much less, London’s universities are guaranteed to play an integral role in the local and national recovery effort going forwards – from addressing lost learning and targeting the city’s skills needs to boosting entrepreneurship and attracting inward investment.

At London Higher, we are determined that this vital contribution is not lost on the policymakers of the day.

As recent studies show, universities in London already generate more economic impact than those in any other UK region, contributing over £12bn to UK GDP and supporting over 223,000 jobs.

Research and development (R&D) activities performed in London and the South East, including at many of the capital’s world-leading universities and research institutes, account for over half (54%) of all UK R&D, bringing in £9.1bn to the UK economy.

Plus, with over 70,000 international students enrolling in courses at London’s higher education institutions each year, London’s international student population alone accounts for £6.4bn worth of gains for the UK economy, equating to a net impact of £88m per London constituency, or £760 per London resident.

To celebrate the many ways in which London’s universities work “beyond the campus”, we are proud to be dedicating this week (11-15 October 2021) to showcasing the valuable contribution “London HE” makes to the capital and country as a whole.

Over the next few days, we’ll be rolling out a varied “London HE Week” programme, kindly sponsored by Barclays, which brings together special guests and key stakeholders to help London’s higher education institutions drive the change that matters and level up our city.

By showcasing local, sub-regional partnerships such as BIG South London, we shall show the different faces of the capital and detail how London’s universities are invested in transforming regional communities and regenerating local boroughs according to their specific needs.

We are also not afraid to be ambitious and shall be hosting a pan-London micro-credentials session in an attempt to progress plans among our membership to devise the first pan-regional micro-credentials pilot, stepping up to support the capital’s skills needs.

Other highlights of the week include a chance to hear from the Rt. Hon Chris Skidmore MP about his experiences while a Minister of signing the UK up to host COP26 and, of course, the opportunity to meet in-person at our flagship reception and hear from the current Minister for London, Paul Scully MP, about his vision for the capital and our sector’s role within it.

While all the talk of the moment is of levelling up, it is important not to forget those who have been continually stepping up.

That’s why, at London Higher, we are keen to remind policymakers of all that our members do for our city, region and country and hopefully convince them that investing in “London HE” is a sure-fire way to expedite local and national recovery.

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Diana Beech

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Posted 11/10/21

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